In this guest post, James White, Managing Director of Media First Ltd, explores how to connect with your audience when delivering web, video or online presentations.
These days more and more of us are finding ourselves presenting to people that we can’t see. Webinars, online presentations and sharing ideas and information on the internet are becoming increasingly popular.
The advantages of remote presentations are obvious – you can talk to far more people than you could ever gather in a single room, and your audience can view and download your presentation long after you’ve finished giving it. Remote presentations are essential for communicating with colleagues and customers around the world who can’t attend an face-to-face meeting.
Without an in-person audience, however, it can be hard for a presenter to react to her listeners and keep a virtual audience engaged. The good news is that you can overcome these new hurdles if you take a moment to follow a few simple guidelines. Take a look at the prezi we've created to highlight these tips, or continue reading below.
1. Remember where to look.
In a conventional presentation, it’s important to sweep the room with your eyes so that the whole audience feels involved. Do this with an online presentation, on the other hand, and you’ll look slightly deranged.
Instead, focus on the camera and imagine that you’re looking through it to talk to one person. Keeping constant eye contact with the camera lens even as you move your head is very important. Don’t forget to maintain high energy and add facial expressions to convey your meaning and keep your audience hooked.
2. Think about the background.
A messy room or a busy office space behind you will distract your audience from you and your message. Choose a plain, professional background for your presentation. Make sure that you’re well-lit, too—if you stand with a window or bright light behind you, you’ll appear silhouetted to the camera, and your audience won’t be able to see you clearly.
3. Make your voice work for you.
Nothing causes an audience to lose focus more quickly than a sleepy, flat speaker. When presenting to a room full of people, you need to add energy to your delivery in order to keep your audience engaged; the same holds true for online presentations. Balance is key—don’t shout, but vary the pace and tone of your voice. Even subtle changes can dramatically improve the attentiveness of an audience.
Remember that your volume and tone should be driven by your content. There are moments when you will want to sound inspiring, times when you will want to sound more like a friend, and points at which you will want to challenge your audience. Your voice needs to change to reflect the goals of your message.
4. Vary the content.
Monotony is boring. Just as varying your tone of voice and expression will improve audience attention and engagement, switching between different types of content will make your presentation more memorable. Use a variety of media to surprise and intrigue your listeners as you take them on a journey through your ideas.
Don’t put too many words in your visual aid. Instead, focus only on key words and phrases, and pair each piece of text with an accompanying image. Graphics keep your audience engaged, especially when those graphics are dynamic or animated.
It’s important not to overlook video as a means for engaging your audience when crafting a presentation. Video can bring your story to life and take your audience to places they’ve never been before. Tools like Prezi make it easy to embed video in your presentations—take advantage of this feature to give audiences a new perspective on your message.
5. Think about your one key message.
People have a limited capacity for remembering information. Whether they are with you in the same room or spread across different time zones, your audience is only going to take one message away with them.
How do you want your listeners to feel—uplifted? Indignant? Energized? Reassured? Be clear about the emotion you want to evoke.
Ultimately, what do you want your audience to do? What is your call to action? You need to make this very clear to them.
Entertaining and moving your audience through storytelling is the key to giving a great speech. This technique traces back to the creators of rhetoric, the ancient Greeks; technology like Prezi offers new, exciting ways for today’s speakers to put these age-old ideas into practice.
Media First are UK-based media and communications training specialists. They deliver practical, realistic and bespoke training using professional TV and conference presenters. For the last 30 years they have travelled the globe presenting, training and sharing their expertise on how to engage audiences.
For more information on Media First and the training they offer, please visit www.mediafirst.co.uk.